By Brita Van Fossen, Editorial Assistant
Small practices across the country face many challenges in meeting meaningful use requirements. Separated from large hospitals or research institutions, these providers suffer from a lack of resources, funding and support.
The American Academy of Family Physicians is attempting to address this issue by formulating a pilot program that lets small practices pay a nominal annual fee of $150 to be enrolled in a patient-driven information and satisfaction portal. This patient portal, developed by Avatar International, a consulting firm for quality and efficiency in health care, will allow patients to enter their information using a personalized and private access code.
Once the information is submitted, it will be compiled by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) as a part of the larger CAHPS Clinician & Group Survey. For the small practices enrolled in the program, this means that the time consuming process of data compilation and organization is essentially outsourced to an organization with access to the necessary resources.
After the data is organized, doctors can filter and access it in the form of comprehensive and palatable charts and graphs. With the information, doctors will be able to not only gauge patient satisfaction and implement necessary workflow changes; they will also be contributing to a larger system of electronic patient data, which has the potential to be incorporated into the formation of a functioning EHR system.
Although not directly linked to meaningful use, this program is a proactive start, whose contribution of readily accessible and sharable data serves as one of many essential steps toward achieving meaningful use on the part of small practices — a feat which was likely to be impossible for small practices to initiate on their own.